When I arrived in Tel Aviv in October, I thought the following three months would play out like this: classes, internship, research, some new casual friends, and an anecdote or two about what I would be studying – “conflict in the Middle East.” It seemed like a typical semester abroad. But that’s not what I wanted from my time here. I wanted a deeper connection with this place, a more nuanced understanding of what ails it, and an intimate group of peers to inform my travel and studies. Perhaps more than all of that, I wanted to really get to the heart of my research on sports for peacebuilding. I wanted to see firsthand whether and how all the things I’d been reading about play out in real life and in such an intense place.
Ultimate Peace brought all of that together. I started coaching during my second week in Tel Aviv and it quickly became my main purpose for being here. As an Ultimate player with some experience in the Middle East and in Africa, I had been watching UP for years, impressed by the progress they had made from that initial summer camp to include a year-long program and peer leadership training. I was ecstatic when I was invited to be a part of that. Continue reading
This past weekend, I played in a fun one day hat tournament. There were grizzled veterans and fresh faced newbies, players who have been chasing plastic for 20+ years playing alongside some who have been for fewer than 20 days.
These tournaments can bring out some of the best and worst in Ultimate players. So often we hear of new players, especially girls, who are excited to play with and learn from veterans leaving at the end of the day frustrated because they didn’t feel like part of the team. Too often we hear about these negative experiences, and it is avoidable.
My 13 Yellow Team teammates were a good mix of newer and more experienced players. Among us there were five of us with real coaching experience, and a couple for whom this was their first time playing real games on a full sized field. We started out the day slowly, but built up our team and were finally able to notch a win in our final game of the day. While a 1-3 record (a 3 way tie for 3rd out of 5) wasn’t the stuff dreams are made of, I think I can honestly say that everyone in yellow enjoyed themselves, learned something, and made new friends. A large part of that was due to how our veterans approached the newer players. Continue reading
This past Saturday, UP held it’s season ending event: UP Games. Teams from UP communities from across the region came together at a field in suburban Tel Aviv for a day of game. Players played as community teams against other communities. This marked the end of a packed year where a dozen different communities had regular weekly practices.
This last year has been one of my favorites with Ultimate Peace. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to take a larger role in two UP communities, Bueina Nujidat and Arabe. Making it north almost every Friday was the most rewarding struggle I’ve ever faced. Watching a whole year go by, really seeing the players grow (physically and with their ultimate skills) allowed me to learn so much more from them than I ever expected. Continue reading
Today’s lesson is to try to define truth. The peace-makers often say “my truth” and “your truth,” but can truth also be objective? Depends on who you talk to (or whether you choose to talk at all)…
I have crossed the Wall. (Kind of like in Stardust, except sans Robert De Niro in a tutu.) As a non-Israeli citizen, I am allowed to cross into the West Bank at my leisure. (Actually, anyone can cross in – it’s getting back into Israel that’s the issue.) Four of us Ultimate Peace coaches gathered for the first formal practice in the West Bank in about a year. The kids had been practicing on their own for a while, but UP now has a volunteer, Ben, who is helping to coordinate more consistent programming. Continue reading
Its 1:00 in the morning and thoughts of Ultimate Peace practice are keeping me awake. Namely, how does UP introduce and coach the principle of nonviolence with the burgeoning team in Bethlehem, West Bank (pictured below in their first practice of 2014).